Changing camera systems – a hobby in itself

As I belong to the group of people that have changed camera systems quite many times in the past, I decided to make a list of the gear I remember that I have owned. I also wanted to mark what positives and negatives all those systems had, in their time. And I wanted to understand what reasons I had that made me make changes to my camera systems, unless it just wasn’t boredom or a hobby in itself to change the cameras. So, if you are interested, read on…

Film era – Olympus OM101 Power Focus (around 1993)
This camera was my first camera. It seemed modern in it’s time and I bough it as new. I also had the Aperture/Shutter-speed plate in the camera, as the camera itself was “autoexposure” without the plate. The focus was done with a thumb wheel at the back of the camera. Pretty awful camera, actually, thinking afterwards. But this was the beginning of changing gear and camera systems. And it is somewhere where one needs to start from. I guess I had couple of focus-powered zooms for it, but cannot remember so well anymore.

Film era – Olympus IS-1000/L-1000 (around 1994)
Bought this as new. This was again a modern camera – in it’s time. Integrated 4x zoom with some kind of ED-glass in the AF zoom, practically a powerzoom. One press photographer saw my photos with the camera and said: “My advice, this camera you should never sell, the photos look so good”. But I sold it. I decided that I wanted an SLR anyway and changed this to my next camera.

Film era – Contax 167MT (around 1994)
Bought this one used. This was quite modern film SLR camera, as the previous ones. Motor winder integrated in small ergonomic body. It had a look I still like. And the photo taking process was the most intuitive I have ever had in my cameras. I guess I broke the camera by dropping it and when buying a new camera I changed system. I do miss Contax and would really like to have a Contax as digital mirrorless camera. But there is no more Contax. And I feel there really is no substitute for that system.
Lenses:
– 50mm Carl Zeiss T*, probably F1.7, but possibly 1.4 (at that time I was not so gear centric to even remember such, all I remember that some people envied this setup)
– 28mm Tamron Adaptall-2 F2.5. A lens I remember being very sharp and I really liked the focal length. After this lens I always have missed the Adaptall so that any lens could be used in different camera systems.
– 105mm Tamron Adaptall-2 F2.5. A lens I really liked, though I actually don’t remember much from it’s usage.

Film era – Minolta X-500 with motordrive (around 1995)
This I bought used. It was an interesting body having all kinds of innovative things like touch sensitive shutter button and back-lighted aperture information in the viewfinder. The lenses I used with this were those Tamron Adaptalls above. Maybe I had a zoom of some kind and 50mm lens, but I cannot remember any more. I can’t remember the reason I sold this, but the next cameras were AF SLRs, so maybe I finally decided to step into “modern” era.

Film era – Pentax SF7/SF10 (around 1996)
Modern looking AF camera, and while it wasn’t the latest fashion I got this as new. I remember that I had some sort of telezoom in combination of the shorter zoom mentioned below. This camera was replaced with Canon, but I don’t remember the reasons. Maybe it was the Canon brand that made me change.
Lenses:
– 35-80mm zoom
– Telezoom of some sort

Film era – Pentax A3/3000 (around 1996)
This was an extra camera that I bought only to hold a mirror tele lens and I bought it used. The lens was a Russian MTO 500mm, probably F8. What I remember is that I liked this body too. And the lens was an experiment of a kind for me.

Film era – Canon EOS 1000FN (around 1997)
I just probably wanted to switch to Canon. But one thing was clear after this purchase: this was my first camera to offer good automatic exposure. I could just shoot with it without thinking much about exposure or even focusing. Wonderful and simple to use camera.
Lenses:
– 35-80mm zoom
– 70-210mm zoom

Film era – Canon EOS 50E (around 2000)
I bought this new around the time I got married. At that time I decided to try this silver colored beauty with an eye-focus -system. One of the controls that still is missing in modern cameras. I mean, real eye focus. Such that follows your eye and determines the focus point according to your eye. Okay, there were only a few points where to focus, but still the idea was usable and really stupid omission of cameras of today. Even though I bought this new and it felt very good camera, it did not have any soul in it. Just a well made machine for picture taking. The next camera on my list was my favorite of all the EOSs of that time. This 50E was sold when I switched to digital totally so I could say I was happy with it.

Film era – Canon EOS 100 (around 2000)
I bought this from one small camera boutique after they had repaired it (the camera did have a bad hit when it was dropped and it looked like shit even after the repair). The camera worked well though and I just fell in love with it even in it’s ugly shape. It was maybe the second best film camera after the Contax 167MT I had, or even better. I really really liked using this camera. Eventually this was sold when I switched to digital totally. I could say, if film times hadn’t ended (at least for the majority of people), this could still be the camera to have and be happy with.

Digital era – Nikon Coolpix 4500 (around 2002)
Bought this little digital camera as new. 4 megapixels, 4x integrated zoom and very slow autofocus. This lived along the EOS film cameras. But I missed a better digital experience and sold this when switching to digital totally.

Digital era – Olympus C-5050 (2003)
5 megapixels, 3x integrated zoom. This was my first digital camera that replaced all my film gear and the above mentioned Nikon. At that time there were not very much DSLR options and I only could afford this. It was actually quite awful camera with no usable higher ISOs. But still I lived with this for quite a long time and got a lot of beautiful memories of my family during the years I used it.

Digital DSLR era – Pentax K10D (2007)
My first digital SLR. 10 megapixels and really the first affordable higher MP-count camera available. I remember the camera was nice and had a good sensor. Not much high ISOs available though. My experience was ruined with wrongly assembled mirror box that turned the viewfinder image by some degree. I got a possibility to change the camera to a K20D so this was with me for a very short period.

Digital DSLR era – Pentax K20D (2008)
I got this to replace the K10D. With 15 megapixels it was one of the most advanced APS-C -cameras. And still, in practice, I didn’t like it so much. After all, I switched again, for Canon.
Lenses:
– Tamron 17-35mm F2.8-4 zoom (good zoom, but would have been wonderful in full-frame camera)
– Sigma 70-300 APO DG (awful zoom, but got even decent photos with it)

Digital DSLR era – Canon 50D (2010)
Bought as new. Canon again. This time DSLR. And this camera was wonderful. In digital era this probably has been the camera body I have liked the most. High ISOs started to be usable from this camera on. The feeling when you pressed the shutter was like with a sports car, it just goes when you press the throttle. Ok, it had it’s time and I eventually wanted to try mirrorless, though, as you can read from later entries, the transition didn’t go as planned.
Lenses:
– Sigma 17-70mm (must have been the most awful zoom I ever had)
– Canon 70-200mm F4 L (really liked this zoom)

Mirrorless era – Samsung NX10 (2011)
Viewfinder was totally unusable. But that little machine took decent photos and using it with Samsung’s prime lenses was a good experience. At some point I wanted to get to Canon again and changed to the M1. But about that next. And I just have to mention that Samsung had dropped the ball from making cameras, and that was a shame, big shame to Samsung. Probably their marketing team just didn’t understand how to make calls from those cameras.
Lenses:
– Samsung 20mm F2.8 (nice usable wide-angle lens)
– Samsung 30mm F2.0 (very nice “normal lens”)
– Samsung 45mm F1.x (quite bad for a prime lens)
– Samsung 60mm F2.8 macro (a lens I still would like to own and use, in my current system)

Mirrorless era – Canon M1 (2013)
No viewfinder, but good sensor and beautiful photos. AF very slow. Lovely prime with it and I tried some other lenses including converted legacy lenses. But it just didn’t work for me. When I bought this original M I eagerly waited for an enthusiast specified version of M with a viewfider, but it never came. So I went back to DSLRs as the time was just not ripe for Canon mirrorless systems.
Lenses:
– Canon M 22mm F2
– Voigtländer 90mm APO 3.5 semi-macro (I used this even with Canon DSLR later, and what a wonderful lens it was)

Digital DSLR era – Canon EOS 70D (2015)
This got a lot of usage. Even more with video than with photography. The AF in video was really nice. Though using such camera with only screen for video was killing me when the time went on. Still, nothing bad to say about this camera (unless you don’t count the fact that the middle focus point didn’t work). The camera worked, but wasn’t perfect for what I wanted it to be. Especially the shutter/mirror combination was too loud for my horse sports photography as the horses got nervous because of the noise. A modern EVF mirrorless camera without mirror slap enticed me finally away from DSLRs.
Lenses:
– Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 VC (short period, decent zoom)
– Canon EF 28mm F2.8 IS (prime, but would have been more proper for a full-frame camera)
– Canon EF80-200 F2.8 (olden goldie, but noisy and quite slow AF and no IS)
– Canon EF70-300 F4-5.6 L IS (this was very very favorite zoom, sharp and good photos at all focal lengths and apertures, I miss this)
– Tamron SP90mm F2.8 Di VC Macro (good macro)

Mirrorless era (again) – Fujifilm X-H1 (2018)
This was something I tried to fall in love. It had a decent EVF, low shutter sound, good ergonomics, manual controls, nice prime lens selection and beautiful film simulations. But what I really wanted from Fuji would have been a weatherproof small ICL camera with good ergonomics and good viewfinder. When the time came to upgrade this body, I just could not throw my money to Fuji again. There never appeared a 60-70mm fast weather sealed prime between the 50mm and 90mm F2s. And there was no camera body that I wanted. Eventually you have to understand that some camera makers just don’t do what you want, they make what they want. And you have to buy from available gear, not something that might at some point appear. And the system was changed again. But this time Canon could not do it, as I got a Nikon in my hands.
Lenses:
– Fujifilm XF27mm F2.8 (a slow prime lens, nothing good to say about this one)
– Fujifilm XF 18-55 F2.8-4 (wonderful zoom lens, nothing bad to say except it wasn’t weather-sealed)
– Fujifilm XF 23mm F1.4 (exceptional moderate wide-angle lens that I miss, actually)
– Fujfilm XF 35mm F1.4 (amazingly small, no-distortion lens that has beautiful micro-contrast, a lens that really is missed)
– Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 + 1.4 TC (heavy pro-grade zoom that worked wonderfully in video usage and photographing horse sports)

Mirrorless era (present) – Nikon Z6 II (2021)
I was about to buy a Canon R-series camera to replace the Fujifilm. But I was too hopeful that any less costly body from Canon would be a viable option. And while weeping the options I got a Nikon in my hands. And to my eye. And what a view! Just what I had wanted some two years with the Fujifilm, suffering with it’s only decent viewfinder. No, the camera is not soulful, like the Contax I had, or feels as good as the EOS100, but as a system, and as a camera body, it seems what I want at the moment. I am about to purchase some certain lenses and even use some adapted ones, but at the beginning I have two lenses for it, and I like both of them. Actually, from my viewpoint, Nikon has made all the right decisions so far with their Z-cameras and lenses. And Nikon openly has told what lenses you can expect in the near future.
Lenses:
– Z 24-70 F4 S (unbelievable clear imaging and the only weakness of this lens is the wild distortions at different focal lengths)
– Z 85mm F1.8 S (comparing to the Fujifilm offering, XF56mm 1.2, which in practice has similar DOF and angle of view as this lens in full-frame, this is weather sealed and focuses quicker AND costs less, and is also a stellar lens)

Final thoughts
I have changed camera systems as part of the hobby, and I acknowledge the changing has been a hobby in itself sometimes. But there has been real reasons to change the cameras and camera systems also. Though the transition from film to digital and from digital SLRs to mirrorless didn’t go as smoothly as I predicted. I did many mistakes when predicting future and hopefully have learned to see what really is on offer than wait for something to appear. Afterwards thinking I am happy I left Canon M -system. And I am happy I left Fujifilm X-system. But I probably should have used Canon DSLRs longer and wait for the mirrorless systems to mature more. What I also have learned is that old vintage lenses aren’t for me. Every time I have considered a purchase of old lenses I end up seeing that native lenses are the most realistic and surprisingly most cost effective way to go. If I add something “adapted”, it will be after a long consideration and only after I have bought all other native lenses that I need. And those “adapted” lenses will be duplicating focal lengths, just for fun, or in Nikon Z -case, to get access to some tele lenses that yet aren’t available for the mount.

To my surprise the longest period I lived with a certain camera was the time I used the Olympus’ compact C5050. And practically most of my other cameras have been better than that. And the photos from that period are the most meaningful to me, when my daughter was living her first years.

But that is past and now I hope to live happily with Nikon Z full-frame system for a long time, or at least until the next change, maybe :-).

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